The Jacksonville Personal Injury Lawyers at
Shorstein, Lasnetski, & Gihon
The third of four elements (Duty, Breach, Causation, & Damages) a plaintiff must prove in a personal injury case is Causation. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant's negligent conduct was the cause of the injury, otherwise known as proximate causation. In order to prove causation, a plaintiff must show that but for the defendant's conduct, the injury would not have occurred and that the injury was a foreseeable consequence of the conduct. In cases where two concurrent acts caused an injury, the "substantial factor" test will be applied, rather than the "but for" test.
Where the plaintiff's actions were the sole cause of the injuries, the plaintiff would not be able to recover from the defendant even if the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, breached that duty and there were damages because the defendant did not cause the injuries. Where an intervening cause occurs, a defendant may be relieved of liability. For example, a maintenance worker may negligently redirect a motorist to another route, but if a third person rear ends the driver, was that an intervening cause or was it a foreseeable result of the maintenance worker's negligence?
In some circumstances, the plaintiff doesn't have to prove causation. There are statutes, ordinances, and administrative regulations that impose strict liability where foreseeability and proximate causation do not have to be proven. The language within the provision will dictate whether proximate causation is required or whether violation of provision is negligence per se.
In car accident cases, a plaintiff does not have to prove causation to recover PIP (Personal Injury Protection) benefits or uninsured motorist insurance benefits. Florida's Motor Vehicle No-Fault law allows for recovery of benefits up to $10,000 regardless of who was at fault. If a person is in an auto accident and the injuries arise out of the accident, proximate causation does not need to be proved.
Unavoidable accidents sometimes occur. When an accident is not foreseeable, the defendant may be relieved of liability. For example, if the driver of a motor vehicle suddenly has a heart attack and crashes into an occupied vehicle, he may not be liable. He had a duty to the other motorists, he breached that duty by not operating the motor vehicle in a prudent manner, and caused the injuries. However, the defendant may not be liable because of the "unavoidable accident" doctrine. If the defendant had prior knowledge of his condition and could have foreseen a medical emergency, he may still be liable.
Causation can be complicated depending on the facts. Was the defendant's actions the sole cause of the injury? A concurrent cause? An intervening cause? If you've been injured in a Jacksonville personal injury accident, call, text or email the personal injury attorneys at Shorstein, Lasnetski, & Gihon. We'll analyze the facts of your case to determine whether there is an issue of causation and how that issue affects your personal injury case. We offer free consultations on all of our personal injury cases. Contact us today.